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I suggest starting out with hosted version until you get hang of system, then switch over to a version on your own server to avoid monthly charges.
An online help desk operates fairly simply.
A customer submits a ticket through a form on your website, customer support staff (even if it's a staff of one) responds to ticket through website, and all communication gets posted on a private web page.
Both Kayako and Perldesk enable customers to search a "knowledgebase" or collection of articles to try solving their problems on their own (especially during non-business hours), thus frequently eliminating need to get a live response.
Anyone who does business online should consider installing a help desk solution from start rather than putting it off until future.
Get your customers conditioned to operating with a ticket system rather than switching on them in mid-stream once your business gets too busy to handle support via email.
Here are a couple of other tips to help you.
Designate one person to act as "sorter" answering basic issues, then referring off ones they can't answer to other staff members.
Also, post your help desk hours and stick to them.
Answer questions same day if possible, but no later than next business day.
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Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the creator of an amazing course that will teach you step-by- step and click-by-click how to finally create your own money-making mini-sites... http://www.the-easy-way.com/msc.html